TOPICS OF THE DAY.
WE hope the public feel the better-for the fine lessons which its best possible instructors the Newspapers have extracted from the life, crimes, conversation, manners, habits, death, and dissection of Corder. As a turtle is said to contain within itself every kind of meat, so this case, in the hands of the journalists, may be said to have comprehended every conceivable sort of instruction—history, morals, divinity, law, and- metaphysics, nor, strange to add, and great glory to the artist, has even fun been wanting to relieve the sombreness of the grave lessons. In respect of history, we are sure the public mind must be sensible of the great advances it has made under the press which has so diligently scraped together every fact belonging to or bearing in any way upon the persons acting in this tragedy. We are now acquainted with a good part of Corder's life ; we know it as well as the life of Napoleon, better than the lives of Shakspcare or Milton. We know how he got his wife ; how and where he advertised for her ; and by the communi- cativeness of the cut-throat, and the great goodness of a turnkey, we know also that a heap of other ladies answeredthe advertisement, and that he was within- a sermon of captivating a beauty who kept her coach. These are great things to know, through the in- telligence of our best possible instructors ; but we know still more,— we know not only about Corder's wives that were, and wives that might have been, wives in posse and in esse, but we know what sort of clothes he wore, and what he ate for his dinner in gaol, and how he was boiling eggs when apprehended ; and further, we know that, as the Chronicle with the gravity of history expresses it, " there was one peculiarity which he was fond of indulging in," and that was patting little children on the head I This fondness for little children, the Chronicle instructs us, was a natural conse- quence of his having murdered his own baby. We know —Jrcover that Corder was in the habit of staying at home a good deal at Ealing, and that on the very day of his apprehension he gave some young children some oranges. The kind and price of the oranges are left at present in some obscurity, and also the method which the children pursued of eating them ; but these points will doubtless have been stated with the customary circumstantiality before this summary of the public knowledge appears in print. The moral lessons extracted from the case are of especial ex- cellence. The Chronicle observes upon the prisoner's condem-
nation, that " this retributive change of circumstances removed him from a convenient apartment in the front of the prison to a cell in the rear, and exchanged a dress of fashionable attire for the common gaol apparel." Think of that, bad people ! The dreadful consequence of murder, the awful retribution of justice, is the perdition of fashionable apparel, and plunges the body into coarse clothes ! It is in the substance and shape of clothes that the
bitterness of sin is tasted. On the meeting of Corder and his wife, the same profound sentiment is again suggested. " This being the first time of Mrs. Corder's seeing her wretched husband dressed in his prison clothes, she appeared much shocked at the altered appearance which he presented, and he himself seemed to shrink, front a consciousness of his humiliating change dress." It is thus, we see, from these excellent authorities, all an affair of dress, and the gallows itself is merely a kind of ugly finisher to a bad toilette. To consider with proper effect these points of history and morals, we should endeavour to dismiss from our minds the reflection, that the subject is a murderer of the very blackest - guilt (the only circumstance, by the by, that gives interest to the anecdotes, but let that difficulty pass). For example: a turnkey appointed to watch the criminal, enters into an indifferent conver- sation with the blood-stained man, which, though it adds greatly to our historical stores, would yet lose much of its effect if we merely considered what would be called on the stage the dramatic propriety. how, we should inquire in at theatre, could the most hardened inmate of a gaol bring himself to talk thus lightly \\jilt so abhorred an assassin ? But thus, say the newspapers, Corder
and his inquisitive attendant did converse :—
Attendant—" Pray, Mr. Corder, may I ask whether it is true that it was by advertisement that you were first introduced to Mrs. Corder ?"— Corder—" It is perfectly true."
" Did you receive many answers to it?"—" I received no less than forty-five answers, and some of them from ladies in their carriages."
" Really ! well, that surprises me."—" It may well surprise you, as it did myself, but I missed of a good
" Pray, how was that ?"—" I will dull you. In one of the answers which I received, it was requested that I should attend a ]:articular church on an appointed day, dressed in a particular way, and I should there meet a lady wearing a certain dress, and both understanding what we came about, no further introduction would be necessary!'
"But how could you know the particular ledy, as there might be another lady dressed in the same. way ?"—" Oh, to guard against any mistake, the lady desired that 1 should 'wear a black handkerchief, and have my left arm in a sling; and. in case I should not observe her, she would discover me and introduce and, " And did you meet her ?"—" I did not ; I went to the church, but not in tine, as the service was over when I got there."
"`Then as you did not meet her, howcould you toil that she was a respect- able woman I"--" Because the pew-opener told me that such a lady was inquiring for a gentleman of my description, and that she lied conic in
an elegant carriage, and was a young woman of fortune." [Here the prisoner sighed heavily.] "Then you never saw her afterwards ?"—" No, never, but I found out where she lived and who she was; and would have had an interview with her, were it not that I was introduced to Mrs. Corder, and we never parted until we were married."
" Pray, Sir, was that long ?"—" About a week."
The delicacy of that blank, in the second reply, " I missed of a good —," is such that we cannot suffer it to .pass without the
becoming honour. We saw at once that all the refinements of
forbearance of the Morning Chronicle were concentrated in this suppression. The worthy proprietor would not gratify the public
curiosity, nor even enrich the stores of history at the expense of something or other unknown. He would only say Corder had missed of a good —; but what the — was, imagination was left to divine, assisted by the conjecture what that could possibly
be which the Chronicle was too delicate to mention. It could not be a duchess, it was not Mrs. Coutts, nor the pig-faced lady.
The good — must be something very bad, was the necessary
conclusion. We turned to the Times, not with any expectation of seeing the unnameable named, but merely to ascertain how it would acquit itself in this nice predicament ; and to our utter amazement we saw the hiatus filled up ; and what was it ? " I missed of a good —" What, in the name of wonder ?—" a good thing !" Such was the delicate reserve of the Chronicle—it solitary and signal forbearance
We said that we have had instruction in this case in history, morals, divinity, law, and metaphysics. History and morals we have touched on, though very inadequately, for did we fill a SPE C- TATOR with the examples, we should yet fail to comprehend the mass of valuable information and edification ; the divinity is to be found in the report of the Judge's charge, admirably commented
on by the Chronicle; the law will be admired in the abridged copies of the indictment ; and as for the metaphysics, we take a specimen from the Herald. " On such occasions," (in the trials of
self or friends for murder) " people do not act from reason, but from the impression of the moment." People very rarely act on any occasions from reason, in the strict sense of the word ; but we should like much to know what is that motive of action called " the impression of the moment." Has it a tangible form wholly independent of the mind of man, and acting on it we may say as a print of a lamb acts on a thoughtless pat of butter ; or what does it resemble ? The only impression which may be said to stand en- tirely clear of reason, and yet influence the actions of men, is the impression of a newspaper.
We have affirmed that our public instructors have relieved their lesson with some fun. So industrious and kind they have been, as to glean the jokes made by the prisoners in the gaol, on the passage made for Corder's last exit. For this, and all other such favours, the public should be grateful in proportion to the benefit it has received.
The Press ought to be ashamed of giving, and the people of receiving this vile sort of gratification. The title of Public In- structor is a satire on the Press while it consents to play the pander to the idlest curiosity. But it is not simply the pander, it excites the morbid appetite it gratifies.
It has just been discovered by persons not particularly skilled in astronomy, that the world will be des t royed by a comet in the year 7832. This is not the first time that the 32d year of the century_ has been fixed upon as the date of the dissolution of all things: We read in Bayle, that " Michael Stifelius, an apostate monk, born at Eslingen, prophesied that the end of the world would conic in the month of October 1532." The end of the world not having come according to appointment in 1532, " he wrote a book wherein he declared that in the tenth month of the ye.ar 1533, on the second day of the forty-second week, at eight o'clock of the morning, .Tesus Christ would come upon the earth to judge the world. He grounded his calculation upon these words, Jesus Nazarenus Rex judworum ;' and upon these, eVidebunt in quern transfix- erunt: The numeral letters of the first passage give -1532, those of the second 1333. A great number of country-people suffered themselves to be so infatuated with this notion that they neglected their work, and spent their substance. The day appointed being come, Stifelius got into the pulpit, and exhorted his hearers to be ready, for that the moment was at hand in which they were to ascend into heaven with the same clothes they had on. The hour passed, but nothing appeared of what they had expected, and Stile- lius himself began to be in doubt, when suddenly a storm arose which revived his hopes, and made him renew his exhortations : Behold,' said he, the prelude to the last judgment.' The storm lasted but a short time, and the peasants that were assembled there soon perceived that the sky was clear. Upon this they grew angry with their minister, dragged him out of his pulpit, bound him, and carried him to Wurtemberg, where they accused him as an impostor, and insisted upon some reparation being made to them." Their proceeding should of course have been an action for a breach of promise of the world's end. The disappointment must have been severe. On the other hand, hew curious is that pride of prophecy which caused Stifelius's le e: -; to be raised by the sup- posed indications of the destruction : the globe. He greatly preferred the end of the world to a e e.iction of error : a. very different divine from Joe Miller's 13i' e in a storm, who on some one's saying, "Ina few minutes we s, he in heaven," ejaculated, " God forbid I"